Natchez is the birthplace of Mississippi. As the oldest city in the Magnolia State, visitors can feel its history as they walk around its storied streets with the Mighty Mississippi River as a scenic backdrop.
Located high on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi river, Natchez might not be as well known as other southern cities, but it should be! Locally, it’s called the “Little Easy” since it is similar to New Orleans but on a smaller, more easy-going scale, making it the perfect long weekend destination.
The history of Natchez is vast, spanning from the pre-historic era to the Mississippi Delta history, starting with Native Americans, then to French, Spanish, and British Rule.
Did You Know?
Since it already was a substantial settlement on the Mississippi River, Natchez was chosen by the United States Congress as the first capital when they created the Mississippi Territory in 1798, though no official capitol building was ever built.
Natchez is a very walkable town, with so much to see on every corner! The downtown area has different walking trails that take you through the city’s history. Beginning with the Natchez Indians before the 1700s, the Spanish laid out the town’s streets, the Civil Rights movement, and the city’s music history.
An outdoor museum of streets is what it is! A map is available at the beautiful visitor’s center, with arrows on the sidewalk helping to clearly mark the way. There are also historical markers in front of buildings so walkers can read the stories and history of each location.
If you want to avoid taking the official walking tour, grab a brochure or visitnatchez.org. From there, you can decide where you want to go. Remember your camera!
Houses and History, Oh My!
Natchez is known for its beauty. This is one of the reasons why it was spared during the Civil War. With 300 antebellum homes, there are so many gorgeous houses to see and so much history to learn that goes with them.
Longwood is one of the most popular homes to tour. As the largest octagonal house in the United States, this historic antebellum mansion is known for its octagonal design and byzantine onion-shaped dome on top.
Longwood is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark. Designed in 1859 for cotton planter Dr. Haller Nutt and his wife, Julia. Construction began in 1860 but was halted in 1861 by rising tensions over the Civil War. Craftsmen from the northeast dropped their tools (where they still lay today) and fled the home.
Several days could be dedicated to touring these stunning homes. It’s important to note that Natchez is known as “The Bed & Breakfast capital of the South,” so many of these historic homes can be stayed in by visitors.
A Southern Food Destination
Downtown Natchez is full of local restaurants that offer delicious cuisine, all rooted in Southern-style soul food. Rolling River Reloaded is a popular pub-style restaurant. With out-of-this-world catfish and their famous “Rolling River Egg Rolls,” this place is a must-stop.
There is a line outside at the local Donut Shop every morning, where handmade, freshly rolled glazed donuts are made right before your eyes.
Mississippi is known for its tamales, and Fat Mamas are fabulous! They’re also known for their award-winning “Knock You Naked Margaritas.”
Frankies on Main is where style meets soul, and their food is excellent too. This restaurant is adorned with art, chandeliers, and timeless furnishings inside an old bank. Fun, stylish, and a little funky, this is an excellent place for a date night or a night out with friends.
Before you leave, grab brunch at Biscuits & Blues, and have a biscuit with their homemade apricot butter. Enjoy a “Little Easy” atmosphere that also feels like home.
A visit to Natchez is only complete with a tour of the Natchez City Cemetery. Established in 1822, “its occupants’ stories reveal the history, grandeur, mystery, and tragedy that tell the story of Natchez.”
This is different from your typical cemetery. Spanning for miles, the beautiful grounds provide breathtaking views of the Mississippi River. Majestic live oaks shadow the drive into the cemetery leading visitors into an entire historical experience that won’t soon be forgotten.
Full of graves from hundreds of years ago, each marker has a story. Visitors are welcome to tour independently, as it is very walkable. However, there is also a driving tour that visitors can take to learn about prominent gravesites.
The Miss-Lou bridge never gets old. It’s stunning and can be seen from many viewpoints in Natchez. Full of culture and history, it is easy to see how this lovely city has captured the hearts of visitors for many years. With one side of the bridge being in Mississippi and the other being in Louisiana, it’s no wonder that Natchez is lovingly referred to as “The Little Easy.”
The Natchez Spirit
Great efforts are being put forth by the city of Natchez to preserve history while looking forward to a vibrant future. Southern hospitality welcomes everyone to Natchez, where “Y’all means all.”
All photos were taken by Our Mississippi Home